Cedric Misquitch works nearly nine hours to handcraft a single leather wallet

It isn’t often that one meets a 52-year-old man sporting 30 tattoos. Add a thick moustache, shoulder-length hair, overalls and funky accessories to that image, and you have Cedric Misquitch, a leather and tattoo artiste.

Even his house is an extension of his persona: a table next to the entrance bears working tools, leather wallets, tattoo designs, metal pieces and a miscellany of art work.

Lessons and inspirations

“I started my working life doing odd jobs such as making stickers and painting T-shirts when I left my house in Mysore and came to Bangalore in 1977,” Cedric says. Then still a teenager, he stayed in a garage in Koramangala. “My grandfather taught me the basics of carpentry and working with tools,” he remembers. “My inspiration for leather art came from a friend named Sunbeem Motha, a leather footwear maker.”

In 1983, he started his own leather unit with five sewing machines, using a loan he got from the Karnataka State Financial Corporation. He only made regular leather garments and accessories then. A few bad business decisions and partnerships later, he decided to explore a niche market.

The masterpiece

He imported a professional kit, consisting of more than 80 tools for stamping and nearly 30 sets of tools for carving. Today, Cedric’s creations are collector’s items.

Starting off with simple designs such as star signs on wallets and customised signatures on purses, bags and briefcases, his work now extends to mural paintings, personalised handbags and briefcases, motorcycle saddle bags, clutches, mobile phone cases, stamped belts and file holders, among other items. His personal pride is an abstract leather piece with ‘the Last Supper’ carved on it.

Raw material is procured from the leather market in Chennai. He sells 40 to 60 items a month. Wallets and handbags are most in demand.

“One wallet takes eight to nine hours to make, depending on the design,” he says. “It is a lot of effort [that] not many are willing to put. The continuous work results in neck and shoulder pain.”

Equally enthusiastic about his tattoo art, Cedric points out that he always gives his customers the needle he used on them. “Hygiene and safety are important in tattooing,” he says.

He started tattooing in 1992 with his self-designed machine until his cousin presented him an imported one.

For his customers, he lays down some strict norms. “The person should be of 18 years or above and has to fill up a declaration form indicating their agreement to avoid any complication.” He has done over 2,000 tattoos.

“I don’t work, I chase my passion, which is machines, leather, tools and carpentry,” Cedric confesses, and gets back to working on orders he has just received from Delhi.

Cedric can be contacted on 9845766869, 9901776869 for orders.

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